Aug 12 2022
East KY Flood Relief Update
In the dark of the night, Eastern Kentucky was ravaged by a deadly flash flood in July unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime. With the death toll now at 39 and others still missing, I join our entire region in mourning the widespread loss across a dozen of our counties. Had it not been for our brave Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky State Police, local rescue crews, and first responders from Tennessee and West Virginia, I am confident that the death toll would have been much higher. The heroic efforts that were executed by aerial and water rescues are nothing short of amazing, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky owes a great debt of gratitude for the rescue efforts that have taken place in recent weeks.
Last week, the Kentucky National Guard invited me to join them to deliver supplies in some of our hard-to-reach communities. Our infrastructure took a hard hit in the storm, washing out roads, bridges and culverts that have essentially trapped several families on their property. Aerial deliveries have been increasingly important to ensure medicine, water, food and other supplies reach those who have no other way to get essential aid for survival. During the flight, I also got a first-hand look at the destruction that spans a dozen of our counties. It gave me a new perspective of the heroic efforts of our Kentucky National Guard and the ongoing support that they are providing to families who have a long road of recovery ahead. You can see photos from our visit on my Facebook page: facebook.com/congressmanhalrogers. Read more at halrogers.house.gov.
I was honored to welcome President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to Breathitt County on Monday, August 8th. It is no secret that we are divided on a number of policy issues; however, natural disasters know no party lines and at times like this, the only thing that matters is taking care of flood survivors and rebuilding our communities. Kentucky's Congressional Delegation sent a letter to President Biden in support of Governor Andy Beshear's request for a federal disaster declaration the same day the flooding hit our region, and the President approved our request the same night. While in Kentucky, the President offered his support for ongoing flood relief efforts and I requested more boots-on-the-ground from all federal agencies, due to the vast territory that needs to be covered in communities where families and individuals lost their cars in the flood and have no other source of transportation.
Thankfully, more federal support has been added to the original declaration, approving individual and public assistance for the 12 counties that were most impacted by the storm: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Whitley counties. Wolfe County was also added for public assistance. To apply for federal help in those counties, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit disasterassistance.gov.
Unfortunately, I have received disappointing reports from flooded homeowners who have be denied or offered a very small amount of assistance from FEMA. My staff and I are actively sharing those cases with FEMA in support of appeals. We must do better for our flood survivors as they work to recover and rebuild, and I will continue to hold FEMA accountable for effective flood relief efforts.
The U.S. Small Business Adminstration (SBA) also provides disaster loans to businesses, nonprofit organizations, associations and homeowners. SBA is a good resource to help fill in the gaps for repairs not covered by insurance. Businesses can apply directly online at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov and homeowners can apply after first registering with FEMA. For more information, call SBA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help provide a comprehensive resource for flood relief assistance and volunteer opportunities, I have created a new webpage with information for federal, state and local resources at halrogers.house.gov. My staff and I are working diligently to provide the most up-to-date information for flood relief efforts across Eastern Kentucky.
Our people are resilient and hope is abundant, because no one is facing this challenge alone. When I visited flood survivors who took shelter in local churches, schools and community facilities, I was amazed by their optimism and sheer determination to thrive beyond their circumstances. We must provide every resource that this nation can afford to help our people get back on their feet and rebuild from this disaster.
My offices are open to help anyone in need and we will continue working to make sure federal resources are being delivered efficiently and effectively for the people of Eastern Kentucky. For assistance in my office, please call 1-800-632-8588.